This series of posts gives Marketing Managers – specifically those in mid-sized B2B firms – the know-how they need to successfully manage their SEO campaigns and avoid the biggest potholes, without having to become SEO experts themselves.
The posts in this series:
- What to look for in an SEO consultant to ensure success. A simple but effective one-page checklist to ensure that your SEO consultant knows his/her stuff and is able to deliver on the big promises. (coming soon)
- How to build an SEO-friendly website, from the ground up. Beware of the website structural issues that can undermine your SEO campaign, and which need to be considered before you build/rebuild your new wiz-bang website. Ignore this list at your own peril!
- How to best track, measure, and manage your ongoing SEO performance. Some of the brightest SEO minds in the business have helped to create this SEO scorecard that you can use to keep your SEO campaigns on track. (coming soon)
SEO Campaign Management: The big picture
If you believe that driving relevant traffic to your website is important to your company’s sales and marketing strategy, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) must be integral to your online strategy. Your other drivers of prospects to your site– Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) – usually cannot deliver the same long term value per marketing dollar as SEO Campaigns.
Agreeing on the importance of SEO is the easy part. But getting there is not all that obvious. So here’s help on the three most important questions facing your SEO initiative:
Question 1: Do it yourself, or go outside?
That depends on how much you know (or think you know), and what the size is of your SEO challenge. If you don’t immediately understand why, for example, your website is suffering from low traffic, high bounce rates, or poor Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings, I suggest seeking an SEO specialist. Learning on the job can be a big task for a typical B2B marketing team that has more work than hours in the day. Consider that even the beginner “Search Engine Optimization for Dummies” book is 407 pages long, and filled with fascinating details about the canonical url tag, and pros and cons of CSS titles versus HTML <H> tags. Do you really want to go there?
And if you do go outside, how do you judge who’s capable and who’s not? Face it, the SEO field is littered with self-proclaimed SEO experts with no universally accepted accreditation, like a CA in accounting. If your “SEO expert’s” idea of SEO is to insert a couple of meta tags, toss in a few keywords, and send a sitemap to the Search Engines, you might want to reconsider.
Finally, should you ask for a performance guarantee?
If these questions keep you up at night, then you’ll want to read our upcoming post on how to hire the right SEO consultant for your website.
Question 2: When is the best time to start thinking about SEO?
Do you update the site’s content first, and then optimize? Or should SEO be part of the rebuilding process?
Time and time again, we’ve encountered marketing teams that want to rework their website first, and optimize later. That’s a mistake. Optimizing a website for search engines dictates certain structural considerations: domain/url naming, directory tree design, navigation system requirements, flexibility of the content management system, international and multiple language issues, etc. For your website to reach its true SEO potential, it must be designed with all this in mind.
Still not convinced? Check out this post on how poor website structure can undermine your SEO campaign.
Question 3: How can I best monitor and manage my SEO campaign?
Finally, to manage your SEO project you will need a clear set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help you decide whether your SEO efforts are on-target, and whether your “SEO expert” has delivered on the promises.
Now, one of the great things about online marketing is the availability of tons of data and analytics. Unfortunately, every positive has a flip-side negative. The negative is that it is easy to become overpowered by the sheer volume of data, mesmerized by the endless micro-segmentation, cool graphics, correlations, and end up in total analysis paralysis.
What’s relevant? What’s not?
It is no secret that entire companies have been conceived on the back of an envelope. We may be going out on the limb here, but we believe you can certainly manage your SEO campaign with all the key metrics fitting on a single page. To help, we’re creating a one page SEO scorecard (coming soon) that will help you track and manage your entire SEO program.
In our experience, the websites of most mid-sized B2B companies are notoriously unoptimized, wasting their substantial internet investment, and are simply “unfindable” by many of the prospects in their industry. We believe this is because most marketing managers consider SEO complex and unmanageable.
Hopefully these posts will help make easier for you to initiate, track, and manage your SEO campaign.